The purpose of this monograph is to describe why and how the Bolivian armed forces seized power in November 1964. Because of its brevity, the work understandably fails to be a definitive study of the antecedents and the development of the golpe. While it is a contribution to the general field of Bolivian politics and the role of the military, a number of significant factors have been excluded, glossed over, or merely suggested. For example, it would have been useful to know the extent of infiltration by Falange Socialista Boliviana (FSB) into the Bolivian armed forces, and its political effects. A word about those young officers with the rank of captain or less who provided the impetus for the military’s intervention in this case would have been helpful.
A greater evaluation of direct and indirect United States influence on the antecedents and subsequent developments leading to the fall of Víctor Paz Estenssoro would also have been welcome and appropriate. There were U.S. pressures on the Bolivian government for internal reforms; and anti-Yankee Juan Lechín was not acceptable to the U.S. in the presidency of Bolivia. As a viable alternative Paz Estenssoro chose to seek a third term, thus alienating sizable MNR support. And while the U.S.-sponsored Military Civic Action program strengthened the Bolivian military, General René Barrientos’ former flight instructor and close friend was also head of a U.S. military mission in Bolivia at this time.
At best this short volume represents a survey of events which the author feels are relevant to his conclusion that we still lack a rigorous theory with which to study the political behavior of the military in underdeveloped nations. This reviewer would suggest that a more substantial contribution to such a theory would have been to treat one of several pertinent variables “in depth.” Also a title reflecting these observations on military intervention in Bolivia would have been preferable.